Recognizing the Signs of a Mental Health Crisis
Most conversations over coffee aren't about mental health. I mean, it's not like you glance over your croissant and say, "So, Barbara, how's your serotonin level today?" Yet, mental health is often the elephant in the room. Having walked the rocky path of helping a friend through a mental health crisis, I've learned some valuable lessons that I believe are worth sharing. If you know the signs, you can really make a difference.
Poor mental health doesn't show up in a lab coat with a nametag saying "Hello, I'm Depression". It usually tiptoes in, disguised as mood swings, changed appearance, withdrawal, or a sudden inexplicable interest in 70s disco music. Maybe your friend is always tired, or always busy, or their Instagram feed is full of cryptic, gloomy quotes pasted over artsy foggy landscapes. Perhaps they're partying too hard, or not partying at all. Such behaviors indicate a friend could be in crisis.
Approaching the Conversation
So, you’ve noticed the signs and you're convinced that something is not right - now comes the tricky part. Yes, "Bro, are you okay?" is a simple question. But it's also like walking a tightrope, with sharp rocks of awkwardness beneath and storm clouds of potential denial overhead. I recall how, when attempting to approach this subject with a friend, I started with talking about how I was feeling. It's less confronting and helps to create a safe space for them to open up. Another useful method is to express your concern in terms of changes you've noticed in their behavior, rather than labeling them with a condition - trust me, no one likes being labeled, unless it's "World's Best Coffee Maker".
Online Resources: Empowering Supporters
Did I read tons of online resources? You bet your bottom dollar! Mental health is complex as a Rubik's cube in the dark, and I am not a mental health professional - I mean, I can hardly decide what to order on a menu. So I found trustworthy websites loaded with advice and information. Websites like the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health America have incredible resources for helping someone in a mental health crisis.
Moreover, there's an abundance of online support groups and forums filled with people who've all sung verses of your same song. Such platforms offer opportunities to learn from others' experiences and to realize you're not alone, in spite of feeling like a single boat bobbing in a vast ocean of worry and confusion.
Encouraging Professional Help
At some point, your friend may need to seek professional help. Mental health professionals are the superheroes in this field, possessing magical potions known as therapies and medical treatments. Encouraging your friend to seek professional help can be difficult. In my experience, suggesting a friend see a therapist was akin to suggesting they start wearing neon polka-dot leggings - there was initial resistance.
Here's a tip: just as you'd casually suggest they try a new restaurant, suggest they speak to someone who can provide expert advice. Remember, the aim is to suggest, not pressure. And don't forget - therapists are like ice cream flavors; if your friend doesn’t like the first one they try, it doesn’t mean all ice cream is bad. It just means they haven't found their 'mint choc chip' yet.
Don't Forget Your Own Mental Health
Lastly, while supporting your friend, don’t forget about yourself. You're not Atlas; you can't carry the world on your shoulders. I learned this the hard way; trying to buoy up a friend, I realized I was drowning myself. So remember, you can't pour from an empty cup. Prioritize self-care. Consume healthy food, maintain a regular sleep pattern, and remember, it's okay to take a break.
Talking about mental health can be as tough as explaining the plot of a David Lynch film. It's not easy, and there's no one-size-fits-all approach. But supporting a friend in a mental health crisis is an act of sheer bravery and kindness. And remember, done with love and patience, it could make a world of difference for them.